“Veterans Voices” Performance In Lake Forest a Stunner”

June 3, 2015

Published initially on Tuesday, 6/2:http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2015/06/thorner-help-close-at-hand-for-war-weary-veterans-in-lake-county.html#more

Slightly edited version below as posted on website of County Veterans and Family Services Foundation on 6/2: http://lakevetsfound.org/news/item/lake-forest-erasing-the-distance-performance-a-stunner

“Veterans Voices” Performance In Lake Forest a Stunner

By Nancy Thorner –  writes for Illinois Review

Local cable-TV celebrity Bev Cooper, hostess of “Cooper’s Corner” was in attendance at the special presentation of Veterans Voices at Gorton Community Theater in Lake Forest during Memorial Week

With the celebration of Memorial Day in May, it is all together fitting to designate May as Military Appreciation Month as a time to turn remembrances into action. An event filling the criteria was presented by Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation at the Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, in front of a captivated, pensive, and reflective audience.

The foundation has as its motto: “Help from Those Who Have Been There.” The organization serves all service members in Lake County by advancing trauma-informed care to veterans, reservists, guardsmen and their families while transforming the way services are delivered. Some of the special needs addressed are post-traumatic stress; domestic violence, substance abuse; mood issues such as suicidal thoughts; re-deployment, discharge or reintegration; grief; education employment and vocation support; financial support; and homelessness.

Founded by Vietnam veteran Paul A. Baffico, MJ Hodgins serves as LCVFSF Director of Community Development. If you are a military/veteran and/or family provider, just one of the many programs offered is the opportunity to apply through the Foundation for Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy at Horsefeathers Therpeutic Riding Center. Check here to donate or to volunteer.

Given that many veterans suffering from PTS, stress, depression and others medical conditions experience difficulty relating and adjusting to society as productive citizens, even with their wives and families, a recent addition to the Grayslake facility is the DryHootch Coffee Room Drop-in Center where veterans can feel comfortable, protected and accepted in the company of other former or active service members.


The Self-Service Coffee Bar at the DryHootch Drop-In Center

Of note is that Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation founder Paul Baffico is also an author and has his own story to tell in his book, “Last Mission for a Reluctant Patriot”, which takes the reader through crucial moments of the experience that defined his life and emotional state and that eventually motivated him to be healed by a most unforeseen encounter with a buried past.

The nature of the May event sponsored by Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter, Lake Forest Bank and Trust, and the Koziol Family Foundation was a powerful theatrical production titled “Veterans Voices”, produced by “Erasing the Distance.” Founded in 2005, “Erasing the Distance” is a nonprofit organization that sheds light on mental health issues through theatre. Brighid O’Shaughnessy is the Founder/Artistic Director.

Veterans Voices” had its world premiere at the Filament Theatre in Chicago in November of 2013. It was originally created with students from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. As such the theatrical production offers an impactful way to learn about the personal and mental health issues facing servicemen and service women, veterans, and their families, from all eras and all branches of the military.

The five veteran voice stories presented at the Lake Forest event were collected from real people via audio-recorded interviews. The stories were transcribed, edited and shaped into theatrical monologues for performance by professional actors. The actors although accustomed to performing on a stage, at Gorton Center they were at eye level, making for a very thrilling, close-up presentation.

Observe here the “Veterans Voices” story of development.

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